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Economic team pushes ‘fair’ security of tenure bill

Economic team pushes ‘fair’ security of tenure bill

Ben O. de Vera | Philippine Daily Inquirer | July 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The economic team is pushing for a “fair” security of tenure bill to ensure that the interests of both employers and workers are protected.

“We support [Socioeconomic Planning] Secretary [Ernesto M.] Pernia’s position, and would like to add that the law should not negatively affect the competitiveness of the Philippines as an investment destination,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said late Wednesday when asked about the Department of Finance’s (DOF) position on the bill.

In a press conference Wednesday, Pernia—the country’s chief economist and head of the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda)—said the pending security of tenure bill awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature needed to be tweaked in order to be fair to both the business and labor sectors.

For his part, Dominguez, who heads the Duterte administration’s economic team, added: “Be mindful that the Supreme Court in several occasions has ruled that while the Philippine Constitution provides that the state should protect the rights of workers and promote their welfare, such constitutional policy is not intended to oppress or destroy capital and management.”

As for Pernia, he said Neda’s view was that “the legislation should be something that will benefit not only the employers but also the workers.”

The country’s biggest local and foreign business groups earlier asked the President to veto the bill as they claimed its passage would negatively impact on the Philippine economy and to workers themselves.

Pernia said the business groups already met with President Duterte, who in turn had asked them to substantiate their claims.

After his fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona) last Monday, Duterte told reporters that he was still studying if he would sign the bill, as it will lapse into law on July 27 if left unsigned.

For the part of Neda, Pernia said it already submitted to Malacanañg its comments three weeks ago, wherein “essentially there is a need for tweaking to address some of the provisions.”

“It has to benefit not only the workers but also the employers because if investments are deterred and they shy away because of the security of tenure, then it’s not good for the workers—there will be less job opportunities,” Pernia explained.

“It has to be fair between workers and employers because if you want jobs to be available, you need investments,” he added.

“We have a very high labor force growth. We really have to keep up with so many workers coming into stream,” according to Pernia.

The Neda chief said the bill seemed lopsided or one-sided, but when asked if it was deemed unfair to the business sector, he declined to comment, only saying that “I think the security of tenure bill is not perfect.

“Also, even from the employees’ side they said it’s not adequate,” Pernia noted.

Unlike the business groups asking Mr. Duterte to veto the bill, Pernia said it may be revised and sent back to Congress just like what the President earlier did to the coco levy fund bill. /je


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